Balance Sheet



? Building Bust. Los Angeles narrowly escapes the expanding sports welfare state. (See "Edifice Complex," August/September.) The would-be developers of a downtown arena for the NBA Lakers and NHL Kings initially get $70 million in taxpayer loan guarantees. But when the developers conceal the details of their agreement with the city from the public, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Boyarsky and City Councilman Joel Wachs hector them into a commitment to cover the entire cost of the $270-million facility.

? Border Parole. Is the Immigration and Naturalization Service toast? The congressionally appointed Commission on Immigration Reform, which has backed cuts in legal immigration, says abolish the INS. The commission wants the State Department to handle citizenship requests, the Justice Department to patrol the borders, and the Labor Department to police worksites. Senate immigration subcommittee Chairman Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) may propose similar changes.

? Language Cops. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel says export restrictions on computer encryption violate the First Amendment. Patel strikes down Clinton administration regulations that require writers of encryption programs to get an export license before they publish their algorithms on the Internet. She rules that computer codes are, "like music and mathematical equations," a form of expression.

? Civil Action. Opponents of the California Civil Rights Initiative find few friends on the federal bench. In August, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rules CCRI constitutional. Then in early September, the Supreme Court rejects an ACLU-filed request to block that decision from taking effect while the case is appealed. Whether or not the Supremes take the case, CCRI supporters smell victory.


? Choke Points. Big surprise: The EPA admits its proposed particulate regulations will cost a lot more than the agency first said. (See "Polluted Science," August/September; "Fancy Figures," Citings, October.) Rather than $8.5 billion a year, the EPA's final Regulatory Impact Analysis now anticipates an annual cost of $46 billion. If these regs cost as much as the typical agency edict, expect the actual costs to exceed $100 billion.

? Cutting Remarks. Remember when congressional Republicans promised to "zero out" hundreds of federal programs? In The Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute's Steve Moore finds the three cabinet agencies scheduled for the scrap heap–Energy, Education, and Commerce–will spend $47.5 billion next year, only 12 percent less than when Democrats last ran Congress. A dozen education programs once destined for the dustbin will soak up $5.5 billion, 31 percent more than in fiscal 1995.

? Soda Pups. With the tobacco companies on the run, nanny statists prep for their next crusade. Their latest target: ice… cold…Cokes. In a letter to The New York Times, Patricia Lieberman of the Center for Science in the Public Interest calls on the FDA to "look at the health effects of caffeinated soft drinks and determine what additional measures are necessary to protect our children's health."

? Youthful Rebellion. Unless tax-funded programs for seniors are privatized, retiring baby boomers may not bankrupt the country, but their grandkids will. The Census Bureau reports that the "boomlet" generation–born since 1980–consists of nearly 75 million people, only 5 million less than the 80 million boomers.